CHICAGO -- Daniel Palka knows he needs to improve his defense. The White Sox outfielder won't shy away from that.In order to do so, Palka has taken extra outfield reps before nearly every game this homestand with outfield coach Daryl Boston."That's ultimately what's gonna keep me here, keep me at
CHICAGO -- Daniel Palka knows he needs to improve his defense. The White Sox outfielder won't shy away from that.
In order to do so, Palka has taken extra outfield reps before nearly every game this homestand with outfield coach Daryl Boston.
"That's ultimately what's gonna keep me here, keep me at this level, being able to cover right and left field," Palka said. "It hasn't been great, so obviously that's why I'm working on it every day."
The drills begin well before the White Sox take batting practice and several hours before first pitch. Palka stands in right field while Boston hits from a tee at the edge of the infield dirt. Boston alternates between line drives, fly balls and grounders, giving Palka as many reps as possible.
Part of the challenge Palka said he faces is adapting to how the baseball travels in the Majors, because the balls themselves are different than in the Minors. In the big leagues, Palka said, the baseballs "have a little more life" than in the lower levels.
"Balls that you read off the bat as being right at you, sometimes, once they're in the air, would go a little bit further," Palka said. "You have to keep your feet moving just a little bit longer."
Palka has seen regular starts in right field, largely due to his .284/.304/.567 slash line entering Wednesday's game against the Orioles. With Avisail Garcia continuing to nurse a right hamstring strain and Nicky Delmonico sidelined with a broken right hand, White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Palka's bat will continue to earn him playing time.
"He's an individual who understands what he's capable of doing or not doing defensively," Renteria said. "It's going to be much easier for Palky to come in than go back right now. He is a work in progress defensively, and he's not afraid to work to try to improve."
Prior to Wednesday's game with the Orioles, the White Sox scratched Matt Davidson from the starting lineup with back stiffness. Jose Rondon replaced Davidson as the designated hitter, batting seventh.
Davidson entered the night hitting .243/.368/.521 on the season with 11 home runs, 28 RBIs and a career-high 27 walks.
Engel reflects on key walk
In Tuesday's comeback 3-2 win over Baltimore, Adam Engel drew a pivotal walk in the White Sox eighth-inning rally following two unsuccessful squeeze bunt attempts. Engel had fallen behind 0-2 in the count against Orioles reliever Mychal Givens, but he worked a seven-pitch walk.
Engel described the plate appearance as one of his best in a big situation, and he felt good after going hitless in his first three at-bats.
"I was watching film on him and knew that typically when he throws pitches in they're good ones to lay off of just because, 1, they're high velocity, and 2, he throws more strikes to the other side of the plate," Engel said. "If he hits his spot, he puts me in a tough spot. Throwing 97 mph up and in, as a hitter, that's really a tough pitch to get to."
Givens did not throw Engel an offspeed pitch in the eighth, and he missed high and inside on three of the four balls.
Tim Anderson appeared in the White Sox first 44 games this season before his first off-day, which came on Tuesday against the Orioles.
"I'll play all of 'em, that's the plan," Anderson said. "Well, I want to play all of them, but … the goal wasn't to play all of them, but play as many as I can, so I just want to be in that lineup in with the guys, pick 'em up and have fun."
The White Sox shortstop returned to the lineup on Wednesday against Baltimore, hitting eighth. Anderson added that he has been encouraged by his higher walk total this season, already setting a new career high with 14.
"I get excited about that more than anything because that tells me I'm learning. I'm figuring things out," Anderson said. "So I'm just going to continue to work and everything else will come together."
The White Sox signed outfielder Alex Presley to a Minor League contract Wednesday, him to Triple-A Charlotte.
Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.